October 21, 2013

One of the core marketing rules in my book is that the first company to create a product or service is usually the winner. But starting the race in first place doesn’t mean you will end the race there, unless you follow another of my rules, “Embrace change.” You can never rest on your laurels. Need proof? Take a look at BlackBerry.

The company that popularized mobile email and, at one time, controlled almost all of the business market for smartphones, lost its market to Apple and Samsung because it stopped innovating. Although they worked for the past two years to get BlackBerry back into the race, fine-tuning a new operating system and focusing the company’s development efforts on a pair of new devices, the company acknowledges those efforts have fallen flat.

It is writing off $1 billion in inventory of the new phones. How bad is business? Well, Apple reported sales in the first two days of the iPhone 5 versions of 9 million, while BlackBerry sold 3.7 million in 90 days (one quarter). Now BlackBerry has struck a preliminary deal to take the company private. A great marketing lesson here: it is extremely hard to play catch up. If you are a market leader, you owe it to yourself and your team to focus resources on keeping your lead.

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